CMS School Board ready to tackle suspension numbers - | WBTV Charlotte

CMS School Board ready to tackle suspension numbers

(Source: WBTV/File) (Source: WBTV/File)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) board members will discuss a policy change when it comes to discipline. 

Board members have been discussing suspension numbers for quite some time and were surprised to find out that students as young as 4 years old were getting out of school suspension.

During the 2015-2016 school year, 992 PreK-2 graders were suspended. Some of the violations include insubordination, disruptive behavior, and disobedience.

Some educators think it's best to keep misbehaved students in school to keep them on track.

"Prohibits them from being able to achieve their maximum potential," Public School Forum Program Director James Ford said. "The other thing - it doesn't necessarily deter negative behavior, so I am not sure that is the best tool."

The school board is ready to change policy that will add a line that will read "the superintendent will support principals to develop strategies and interventions to address the needs of students and to reduce and avoid out of school suspensions."

"I would have liked to have seen a little more specificity in terms - in what ways the superintendent will support - will there be increased accountability measures?" Ford said.

The school board hopes principals will use a program that will be offered next school year that will promote better behavior.

"Are those being operated with fidelity? And are we actually reducing suspensions? Are these things having the intended effect?" Ford asked.

CMS Board chairperson Mary McCray says the board will keep an eye on how this policy change will work. She hopes the change will also help with the district's suspension numbers as it relates to black students getting suspended at a higher rate than white students.

"You have to look at disproportionality that's going on with suspensions," McCray said. "And so what we we're trying to do is make sure that there is equity across all of our grade levels."

The school board will have a first reading of the policy change at its Tuesday night meeting. McCray says there will probably be more language added to the policy and expectations will be spelled out.

"What we want to get clear is that this is an expectation that the board is making when it comes to policy," McCray said. "And that our superintendent is the one we are hiring to carry it out."

McCray believes the added language will make a difference but also wants to keep schools safe.

"We are not saying you got to tolerate and put up with misbehavior," McCray said. "But go through the channels you are supposed to go through and the steps you have to go through before suspension."

As the board continues to discuss the policy change, Ford wants the board to continue to look out for all students when talking about who gets suspended the most.

"We need to make sure we pay attention to the demographics as well. Are these low-income students, are these students of color, LGBTQ students?" Ford said.

The policy committee will discuss the policy change again before the full board votes on it.

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